Saratoga County

Horse jumping show gets under way

Maddie Jefferson has her biggest horse show yet today.


Maddie Jefferson has her biggest horse show yet today.

The 10-year-old from Rydal, Pa., has been showing horses since she was 7 and today will ride 6-year-old pony Calamity Jane, or “C.J,” in a children’s class.

C.J. is one of about 600 horses competing with their riders this week and next in the Saratoga Classic Horse Show run by Skidmore College and featuring hunters and jumpers.

The jumpers are judged on how fast they can execute the jumps without knocking them over, while the hunters are scored based on their form as they glide over the slightly shorter jumps.

“I always compare the hunters to figure skaters,” said Cindy Ford, event organizer with Adele Einhorn. Both work for Skidmore College.

On Thursday, rock music blared to pump up riders in the jumper ring.

The Skidmore show has three competition rings rather than the eight or nine competition areas that some shows have.

“This is just a nice, nice horse show for trainers,” Ford said. “They don’t leave the day exhausted.”

The show’s first week is a world championship hunter rider event. “We’re really one of the top events,” Einhorn said.

“Nine out of 10 horses that are here are probably top, top quality horses that could show anywhere in the country,” Ford said.

Ford and Einhorn restarted the show in 1998. It originally began in 1927 but took a hiatus in the ’50s.

Skidmore did it on a smaller scale after that, Einhorn said. “We decided this region needed a premier event like this.”

The show has stretched for two weeks for nine years now.

The professionals show early in the week each week of the meet, and the amateurs and children show on the weekends when they can get off school and work.

Horses that compete at the show can sell for up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, Ford said.

The show is a charity event, with extra revenue from exhibitors, participants and sponsors going toward scholarships for Skidmore students.

Since 1998, the event has raised $1.3 million for Skidmore College scholarships. “What makes it so special is people who come here and invest in it,” Einhorn said.

They expect to raise $250,000 for scholarships this year. That’s after they pay out at least $100,000 in prizes for the two weeks.

The show does not attract many spectators, but hundreds of people showing. “I went to a restaurant last night, and half the tables were horse show people,” Ford said.

Maddie Jefferson traveled to Saratoga Springs with her mom, Jen, and some other people who stable their horses at Two Bit Farm in Boyertown, Pa.

Jen Jefferson showed horses as a child. “Then life kind of happens and you move on,” she said. Then she suggested her daughter take up the sport.

“I opened my mouth one day and said, ‘You know, there’s more to life than gymnastics. You could always ride horses.’ ”

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